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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
September 23, 2017
Canadian Excellence
Michel Desjardins

Dr. Michel Desjardins


Contact Information
Phone: 519-884-0710 ext.3323
Fax: 519-884-9387
Office Location: DAWB 2-112

Languages Spoken


Academic Background

BA (University of Alberta)
MA (University of British Columbia)
PhD (University of Toronto)


Laurier's Department of Religion and Culture has been my academic home since 1993. I currently also serve as the Associate Dean: Research and Curriculum in the Faculty of Arts.

My areas of teaching and research include comparative religions, early Christianity, the academic study of religion, and the scholarship on teaching and learning.

I have served on boards and executive committees of several academic societies, including the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, the American Academy of Religion, the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion, and the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Current research interests

Two areas of research that now captivate me most are the role that food plays in people’s spiritual lives, and university programs that foster learning by sending students abroad.

I have conducted much of my food and spirituality research with my wife Ellen (a nutritionist and geographer), and over the last seven years our field work has taken us across this country, and to countries and communities around the world, most recently the Philippines. We are in the process of writing a major study on this topic.

Over the last four years I have also worked closely with Joanne Benham Rennick (Society, Culture and Environment, Laurier Brantford) on a teaching-related issue: what values are embedded in academic programs that encourage learning outside the country, e.g., through volunteering or taking courses abroad? We’ve facilitated conversations on this topic with faculty and staff from across Canada, and we are now opening conversations with scholars in Australia with similar concerns. Some of our work has now appeared in our book The World is my Classroom: Priorities for Globalizing Canadian Higher Education.

Recent publications (selected)

Co-edited books

The World is my Classroom: Priorities for Globalizing Canadian Higher Education, with Joanne Benham Rennick. (Toronto/Buffalo/London: University of Toronto Press, 2013)

Tradition and Formation: Claiming an Inheritance. Essays in Honour of Peter Erb, with Harold Remus. Kitchener: Pandora Press, 2008

Book Chapters

"The Desjardins Diet for World Religions Paradigm Loss," in After 'World Religions': Reconstructing the Introductory Course in Religious Studies, eds. Christopher R. Cotter and David G. Robertson (Durham: Acumen, forthcoming)

"Living Sacrifice: Rethinking Abrahamic Religious Sacrifice using Field Narratives of Eid ul-Adha," with Aldea Mulhern, in Not Sparing the Child: Human Sacrifice in the Ancient World and Beyond, eds. Vita Daphna Arbel, J.R.C Cousland, Richard Menkis, and Dietmar Neufeld (London: Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming)

"Practicalities and Pedagogies: Implementing International Learning Opportunities for Students," in The World is my Classroom: Priorities for Globalizing Canadian Higher Education, eds. Joanne Benham Rennick and Michel Desjardins, 215-235 (Toronto/Buffalo/London: University of Toronto Press, 2013)

"Towards a Pedagogy of Good Global Citizenship," with Joanne Benham Rennick, in The World is my Classroom: Priorities for Globalizing Canadian Higher Education, eds. Joanne Benham Rennick and Michel Desjardins, 3-15 (Toronto/Buffalo/London: University of Toronto Press, 2013)

“The Role of Food in Canadian Forms of Christianity: Continuity and Change,” with Ellen Desjardins, in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History, eds. Franca Iacovetta, Valerie Korinek, and Marlene Epp, 116-132 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012)

“Religious Studies that Really Schmecks: Introducing Food to the Academic Study of Religion,” in Failure and Nerve in the Study of Religion, eds. William Arnal, Willi Braun and Russell McCutcheon, 147-156. (London: Equinox, 2012)

Journal Articles

"Response to V.R. Sasson's 'Renunciation as Pedagogy,'" with Yasaman Samiksa Munro, Journal of the American Academy of Religion (forthcoming)

“Training the Next Generation of Teachers of Religious Studies: A Canadian Case Study,” Religion 41/2: (2011): 159-168

“Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses: A Forty-year Retrospective,” in Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses 40/1 (2011): 7-19

“Food that Builds Community: The Sikh Langar in Canada,” with Ellen Desjardins, in Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures/Revue des cultures culinaires au Canada 1/2 (2009):

Teaching Honours

3M Teaching Fellow (one of ten Canada-wide teaching awards, selected by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education), 2001

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Award for Teaching Excellence, 2001

University of Toronto Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1991